College Basketball: Kyrie Irving and the 15 Most Significant Injuries

Josh SchochAnalyst IIIJanuary 4, 2011

College Basketball: Kyrie Irving and the 15 Most Significant Injuries

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    “He divines remedies against injuries; he knows how to turn serious accidents to his own advantage; whatever does not kill him makes him stronger." --Friedrich Nietzsche

    Injuries are a part of any sport, and they must be overcome.  By now you should have heard about Duke's Kyrie Irving going down against Butler.  Irving is out indefinitely and maybe for the rest of the year.  Irving was projected as the number two pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.  Mike Krzyzewski must now help Duke overcome the injury to their star point guard.

    Some injuries are clearly bigger and more important than others, and that got me thinking, is Irving's the biggest?  Maybe, maybe not, these are the top 15 injuries of the college basketball season so far.

15. Sandi Marcius (Purdue, F)

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    Purdue's hopes of a national title now rely even more heavily on the back of JaJuan Johnson.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    There were high hopes for Purdue's Sandi Marcius, but after posting 12 points and 8 boards in 19 minutes in their second game, Marcius was hurt and has not been the same since.  Marcius has played sparingly, and has not had much of an impact on the team in the 2010-11 campaign.  On a team with so many injuries, Marcius could have been key to their success this year, but will not make such a big splash.  The 6'9'' 250 pound Croatian came to the country in August of 2009 for the first time, and is out with a foot injury.  Purdue could have used Marcius, but must now rely even more heavily on JaJuan Johnson.

14. Rakeem Buckles (Louisville, F)

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    Rakeem Buckles will be out for six weeksAndy Lyons/Getty Images

    Buckles is currently sidelined, and he missed one game before this stint.  Buckles was averaging 8.2 PPG, and was shooting 47.6% from three.  Buckles was a beast on the boards too, averaging 7.5 RPG.  Buckles' team has been decimated with injuries this year, which magnifies his injury.  Buckles will be out for up to six weeks with a broken finger.  This will take his team through most of the Big East schedule, and that schedule will take a toll on Louisville's ranking with so many players down.

13. Mike Marra (Louisville, G)

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    Marra was a determined scorer who will be missed.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Marra was a shooting threat for the wounded Cardinals, scoring 8.5 PPG, and contributing with 2.6 APG, 2.5 RPG and 1.1 SPG.  Marra was supposed to be sidelined for 2-4 weeks with an ankle sprain, but he came back for their top 25 match up against #12 Kentucky.  Marra did not look like himself in his 11 minutes, however, and did not score at all.  If Marra reinjured himself in that game and misses extended time, he will also hurt Louisville in their upcoming Big East schedule.

12. Peter Bunn (Hope College, G)

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    Hope College was looking to steal the glory from a big name school like Duke, but they have next to no chance nowAndy Lyons/Getty Images

    If the Hope College men's basketball team is going to fulfill preseason predictions of an MIAA championship and NCAA Tournament bid, they will have to do it without leading scorer Peter Bunn.  Bunn is out for the year with an undisclosed non-basketball related injury.  Bunn averaged 16 PPG for Hope, and they were expecting to win the MIAA Tournament and win the automatic bid to the Big Dance.  Bunn deserves to be so high because his loss will change the Tournament outlook, and now the MIAA Champion will be much weaker no matter who it is.

11. Keith Appling (Michigan State, G)

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    MSU has to step up their game for the Big 10 season ahead without Appling.Nick Laham/Getty Images

    The MSU guard has been hampered with injuries the entire season.  Appling is still scoring 5.8 PPG, 1.5 RPG and 1.3 APG, but has not been the same since his first game when he dropped 14 points and 3 assists.  Appling is not the only guard who has been struggling because of injuries on MSU either, which amplifies his injury status, and can really hurt the Spartans, who have fallen 17 spots (from #2 to #19) since the beginning of the season.  Appling needs to be healthy if the MSU Spartans want to keep their top 25 ranking.

10. San Diego State Quadruple Injury

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    Kawhi Leonard is one of many players hurt for the Aztecs this season.Jim Rogash/Getty Images

    The San Diego State Aztecs have taken the college basketball world by storm, crushing opponents and taking the #6 spot in both major polls.  The Aztecs have also been riddled by injuries this year.  The triage unit: Kawhi Leonard and Chase Tapley missed nearly a week with flu-like symptoms, and D.J. Gay played with it in back-to-back games in Las Vegas. And forward Malcolm Thomas is gutting through a week-old case of turf toe that Coach Fisher says “still isn’t 100 percent.”  The Aztecs do not have the hardest conference schedule to play through, but they still need everyone to be healthy if they want to maintain their top 10 seeding.

9. Jared Swopshire (Louisville, F)

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    Jared Swopshire's scoring will be missed.Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Jared Swopshire of the Cardinals has not played a single minute this year, but last year he was averaging 7.5 PPG and 6.1 RPG.  Swopshire was supposed to be a starter and an important piece of Louisville's game plan this season.  Swopshire could be out for the year with a groin injury.  If Swopshire is in fact down for an extended period of time, the Cardinals will need everyone else to step up if they want to maintain their current top 25 ranking (#23).

8. John Hart (Purdue, G)

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    Lewis Jackson is another Boilermaker who is injured, which makes Hart's injury much more important.Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Hart was averaging 8.4 PPG, and shooting nearly 46% from three before he was hurt.  Hart went down with a stress fracture in his foot, and was expected to be out for at least a month after surgery.  Hart went down in early December, so he might come back soon, but his injury is big since Purdue could have been elite this season, but have been riddled with injuries.  Hart needs to get back to his old self soon if the Boilermakers dreams of a national title are possible.

7. Billy White and James Rahon (San Diego State)

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    Billy White ankle has troubled him for two years now.Elsa/Getty Images

    In the 2009-10 campaign Billy White injured his ankle coming down on another player's foot, and suffered a high ankle sprain.  White did it again in practice, on same type of play, to the same ankle, in the same way, almost exactly a year after he crashed to the floor against New Mexico.  White was a big part of the SDSU machine, and his injury was huge, especially when teammate James Rahon apparently tweaked his left ankle on Wednesday as well and it flared up Thursday. His injury doesn’t seem as severe, but still: SDSU’s entire starting five and now its sixth man have all been injured or sick in two weeks.  If SDSU is to continue their magical run, they need to get healthy and stay healthy.

6. Wesley Witherspoon (Memphis, G)

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    Memphis' leadin scorer, Witherspoon is down for the Tigers.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Wesley Witherspoon was the leading scorer for the Memphis Tigers, but when he was sidelined with a cartilage tear in his knee, he was expected to be gone for five weeks.  Amazingly, Witherspoon came back in less than 2 weeks, and he is currently playing, but not up to his level.  When Witherspoon dropped 28 in his second game back, all seemed right, but in his three games back, he has averaged 13.33 PPG, just under his 13.5 PPG average for the year, even with his 28 point performance.  Witherspoon was also shooting 57.9% from three, and grabbing 5.4 RPG to boot.  If Withersoon's inconsistency stays for good, then the Tigers will be a much worse team.

5. Korie Lucious (Michigan State, G)

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    Lucious called the shots for MSU, and he needs to stay healthy if they want to keep winning.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Korie Lucious has been hampered with injuries to his foot all season, and has not put up the numbers we have all com to expect.  Lucious has only hit double digit points four times this season, and is only averaging 7.6 PPG and 4.2 APG.  Lucious was a monster before, and these numbers do not show his capability.  Lucious is not the only MSU guard hurt either, which makes his injury much bigger.  Lucious did not play the first game, and has not looked too good since the Duke game when he dropped 20 points.  Lucious needs to come back for the Spartans to be good.

4. Phil Pressey (Missouri, G)

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    Anytime a PG goes down, a team is in trouble.Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Phil Pressey was the starting point guard for the number 8 Missouri Tigers.  The Tigers used Pressey to run their offense with his 5.2 PPG and 4.1 APG, and he was quick on defense with 1.5 SPG.  It was bad to see Pressey go down for two weeks or more with a broken finger when in his last 3 games, he caught fire with 27 assists.  Pressey also posted a 15 point 11 assist double-double in his last game before the injury.  Now, Pressey must find his stride again, and make sure he isn't hurt again when he comes back to the Tigers if they want to stay a contender.

3. Jeremy Hazell (Seton Hall, G)

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    Hazell had a shot to lead the Pirates to the NCAA Tourney in March before being injured.Chris Chambers/Getty Images

    Jeremy Hazell was the starting shooting guard for the Seton Hall Pirates in his senior year in the 2010-11 campaign, but is now sidelined with a wrist injury.  Hazell was scoring a ridiculous 24 PPG and shooting an unreal 64.7 % from three.  Hazell was going to lead the Pirates to the Big Dance, but he broke a bone in his wrist, and then another setback occurred.  Hazell was robbed after a Christmas party by four men, and when he ran away he was shot under the left armpit.  The bullet entered and exited his body, and Hazell had to chase down an ambulance.  Hazell will probably miss most of the season, and that will hurt Seton Hall's chance at the Big Dance (not to mention Hazel''s career).  Hazell's numbers were unreal, and now the Pirates have lost their treasured player, and will be mediocre at best.

2. Kyrie Irving (Duke, G)

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    Kyrie Irving will be out indefinitely, maybe for the whole season.Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    C'mon, did you think I would give away the ending in the title?

    Sure Irving is a great player and projected to go number two in the NBA Draft this year, but his injury is not the biggest of the year.  Irving is replaceable, and even though his loss is big, the Blue Devils are still the unanimous number one in both polls and they are favorites to win the NCAA Championship.  For more of how Duke can replace Irving, see:  Duke beat a Miami team that has usually gives them problems by 11.

    Duke is a great team without Irving, so that is why he's number two.

1. Robbie Hummel (Purdue, F)

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    Hummel's loss is the biggest of the year.Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Robbie Hummel was the big man for Purdue, and they had a chance to win it all this year, but when Hummel was lost in the preseason, in fact, just hours after the Midnight Madness kickoff.  Hummel was averaging almost 16 PPG and 7 RPG, to go along with 2.1 APG 1 BPG 1.1 SPG.  Hummel was set for a big senior year that would help his NBA chances, but after tearing his ACL this season, he won't play a second.  Hummel also went down with an ACL injury last season, and he played a lot of his sophmore year in a back brace.  Hummel was a tier one player, but now, with three injuries in under three years, his injury prone body might hold him back from the NBA.  Hummel's career might be over soon, and Purdue doesn't have anyone to replace him.  Hummel's teammates are also suffering injuries, otherwise the one loss tenth ranked Boilermakers might be able to rival Duke for the number one seed.  That is why Robbie Hummel is the biggest injury in college hoops this year.